Meet Our 2018 Dance Magazine Award Honorees
Today, we are thrilled to announce the honorees of the 2018 Dance Magazine Awards. A tradition dating back to 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards celebrate the living legends who have made a lasting impact on dance. This year's honorees include:
Ronald K. Brown
At only 18 years old, Ronald K. Brown founded Evidence, A Dance Company, out of a desire to tell the stories of the communities around him. Thirty-three years later, Evidence is now a mainstay in the modern dance world and Brown is a vanguard among choreographers fusing Western modern dance with movement from the African diaspora. In addition to running his own troupe, he's choreographed on such companies as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (including 1999's much-beloved Grace) and won an Astaire Award for his choreography on Broadway's Porgy & Bess in 2012.
Since becoming artistic director of Miami City Ballet in 2012, Lourdes Lopez has successfully built upon its Balanchine legacy while also embracing Miami's unique cultural identity. She first rose to prominence as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, performing featured roles in works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Her wide-ranging career has also included stints as a cultural arts reporter on WNBC-TV, a faculty member at such institutions as Barnard College and Ballet Academy East, the executive director of The George Balanchine Foundation, and a co-founder of The Cuban Artists Fund and of Morphoses.
Since creating her company Kidd Pivot in 2002, choreographer Crystal Pite has become a critical darling for her dark, mysterious works that powerfully explore the human condition. Her increasingly ambitious productions, some featuring more than 60 dancers, span dance theater to contemporary ballet. A former dancer with Ballet British Columbia and William Forsythe's Ballett Frankfurt, Pite has created more than 50 works for companies like Paris Opéra Ballet, The Royal Ballet and Cullberg Ballet. Today, she is an associate choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater, associate dance artist of Canada's National Arts Centre and associate artist at Sadler's Wells in London.
As a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company for 20 years, Michael Trusnovec has commanded the repertory with authority and artistry. He has excelled in roles as diverse as the tormented and tormenting preacher in Speaking in Tongues; the lyrical central figure in Aureole; the dogged detective in Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal); and the corporate devil in Banquet of Vultures. His work has been honored with a Bessie Award and he was named the Positano Premia La Danza Dancer of the Year in 2016. Having created 26 roles in Taylor premieres, he now serves as company rehearsal director in addition to being one of PTDC's central performers.
Leadership Award: Nigel Redden
For the first year ever, Dance Magazine is also presenting a special Leadership Award, which is being given to Nigel Redden. Over the course of his career, Redden's expansive, globalist vision has guided performing arts institutions across the country, from the Walker Arts Center in Minnesota to the Santa Fe Opera. For two decades (1998-2017), Redden served as the director of New York City's wide-ranging Lincoln Center Festival. Today, he continues to direct the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, which he has led since 1995.
Harkness Promise Awardees
Left: Ephrat Aherie, photo by Matthew Murphy. Right: Raja Feather Kelly, photo by Kate Shot Me
Another new award, The Harkness Promise Award, will shine a light on two young artists for the promise of their artistic work. The inaugural awardees are Raja Feather Kelly and Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie. The Harkness Foundation For Dance received proceeds from last year's Dance Magazine Awards for this grant. The award showcases innovative thinking and how to be an effective artist-citizen who positively impacts dance and the broader community through performance, education, organization and activism. Proceeds from this year's Dance Magazine Awards will be applied to next year's Harkness Promise Awards.
Come Celebrate with Us!
A ceremony to celebrate this year's honorees will take place on Monday, December 3 at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York City. Former Dance Magazine Award winner Misty Copeland will open the event with welcoming remarks. Performances and presentations for each honoree will follow.
Tickets start at $50 and can be purchased here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.
It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.
We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17–19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.
What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
The heart of his message: Be generous.
Launching a dancewear line seems like a great way for professional dancers to flex new artistic muscles and make side money. Several direct-to-consumer brands founded by current or former professional dancers, like Elevé and Luckleo, currently compete with bigger retailers, like Capezio.
But turning your brand into the next Yumiko is more challenging than some budding designers may realize.
When I first came to dance criticism in the 1970s, the professional critics were predominantly much older than me. I didn't know them personally and, as the wide-eyed new kid on the block, I assumed most had little or no physical training in the art.
As slightly intimidated as I felt at the time—you try sitting around a conference room table with Dance Magazine heavy hitters like Tobi Tobias and David Vaughan—I smugly gave myself props for at least having had recent brushes with ballet, Graham, Duncan and Ailey and more substantial engagement with jazz and belly dance. Watching dancers onstage, I enjoyed memories of steps and moves I knew in my own bones. If the music was right, my shoulders would wriggle. I wasn't just coolly judging things from my neck up.